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A Reply to a nameless Anfwer against the Doctrine and Difcipline of Divorce.
Wherein the trivial author of that answer is discovered, the licenfer conferred with, and the opinion, which they traduce, defended.
Prov. xxvi, 5.
"Answer a fool according to his folly, left he be wife in his own conceit."
AFTER many rumours of confutations and convictions, forthcoming against the Doctrine and Difcipline of Divorce, and now and then a by-blow from the pulpit, feathered with a cenfure ftrict indeed, but how true, more beholden to the authority of that devout place, which it borrowed to be uttered in, than to any found reason which it could oracle; while I still hoped as for a bleffing to fee fome piece of diligence, or learned difcretion come from them, it was my hap at length, lighting on a certain parcel of queries, that feek and find not, to find not feeking, at the tail of anabaptistical, antinomian, heretical, atheistical epithets, a jolly flander, called "Divorce at Pleasure." I ftood awhile and wondered, what we might do to a man's heart, or what anatomy use, to find in it fincerity; for all our wonted marks every day fail us, and where we thought it was, we fee it is not, for alter and change refidence it cannot fure. And yet I fee no good of body or of mind fecure to a man for all his paft labours, without perpetual watchfulness and perfeverance: whenas one above others, who hath fuffered much and long in the defence of truth, fhall after all this give her caufe to leave him fo deftitute and fo vacant of her defence, as to yield his mouth to be the common road of truth and falfehood, and fuch falfehood as is joined
with a rash and heedlefs calumny of his neighbour. For what book hath he ever met with, as his complaint is, "printed in the city," maintaining either in the title, or in the whole pursuance, "Divorce at Pleasure?" It is true, that to divorce upon extreme neceffity, when through the perverfenefs, or the apparent unfitness of either, the continuance can be to both no good at all, but an intolerable injury and temptation to the wronged and the defrauded; to divorce then, there is a book that writes it lawful. And that this law is a pure and wholefome national law, not to be withheld from good men, because others likely enough may abufe it to their pleafure, cannot be charged upon that book, but must be entered a bold and impious accufation against God him. felf; who did not for this abufe withhold it from his own people. It will be just therefore, and beft for the reputation of him who in his Subitanes hath thus cenfured, to recall his fentence. And if, out of the abundance of his volumes, and the readiness of his quill, and the vaftnefs of his other employments, especially in the great audit for accounts, he can îpare us aught to the better understanding of this point, he fhall be thanked in public; and what hath offended in the book shall willingly submit to his correction. Provided he be fure not to come with thofe old and ftale fuppofitions, unless he can take away clearly what that difcourfe hath urged against them, by one who will expect other arguments to be perfuaded the good health of a found anfwer, than the gout and dropfy of a big margin, littered and overlaid with crude and huddled quotations.. But as I ftill was waiting, when these light-armed refuters would have done pelting at their three lines uttered with a fage delivery of no reafon, but an impotent and worfe than Bonnerlike cenfure, to burn that which provokes them to a fair difpute; at length a book was brought to my hands, intitled "An Answer to the Doctrine and Difcipline of Divorce." Gladly I received it, and very attentively compofed myfelf to read; hoping that now fome good man had vouchfafed the pains to inftruct me better, than I could yet learn out of all the volumes, which for this purpose I had vifited. Only this I marvelled, and other men have fince, VOL. II. whenas
whenas I, in a fubject fo new to this age, and fo hazardous to please, concealed not my name, why this author, defending that part which is fo creeded by the people, would conceal his. But ere I could enter three leaves into the pamphlet, (for I defer the peasantly rudeness, which by the licenfer's leave I met with afterwards) my fatisfaction came in abundantly, that it could be nothing why he durft not name himself, but the guilt of his own wretchednefs. For firft, not to speak of his abrupt and bald beginning, his very firft page notoriously bewrays him an illiterate and arrogant prefumer in that which he understands not, bearing us in hand as if he knew both Greek and Hebrew, and is not able to fpell it; which had he been, it had been either written as it ought, or fcored upon the printer. If it be excufed as the careless. nefs of his deputy, be it known, the learned author hims felf is inventoried, and fummed up to the utmoft value of his livery-cloak. Whoever he be, though this to fome may feem a flight contelt, I fhall yet continue to think that man full of other fecret injuftice, and deceitful pride, who fhall offer in public to affume the skill though it be. but of a tongue which he hath not, and would catch his readers to believe of his ability, that which is not in him. The licenfer indeed, as his authority now ftands, may license much; but if thefe Greek orthographies were of his licenfing, the boys at school might reckon with him at his grammar. Nor did I find this his want of the pretended languages alone, but accompanied with fuch a low and homefpun expreflion of his mother English all along, without joint or frame, as made me, ere I knew further of him, often ftop and conclude, that this author could for certain be no other than fome mechanic. Nor was the style flat and rude, and the matter grave and folid, for then there had been pardon; but fo fhallow and fo unwary was that alfo, as gave fufficiently the character of a grofs and fluggish, yet a contentious and overweening pretender. For firft, it behoving him to fhow, as he promifes, what divorce is, and what the true Doctrine and Difcipline thereof, and this being to do by fuch principles and proofs as are received on both fides, he performs neither of thefe; but thows it firft from the judai
cal practice, which he himself difallows, and next from the practice of canon law, which the book he would confute utterly rejects, and all laws depending thereon; which this puny clerk calls " the Laws of England," and yet pronounceth them by an ecclefiaftical judge: as if that were to be accounted the law of England which dependeth on the popery of England; or if it were, this parliament he might know hath now damned that judicature. So that whether his meaning were to inform his own party, or to confute his adverfary, inftead of fhowing us the true Doctrine and Difcipline of Divorce, he fhows us nothing but his own contemptible ignorance. For what is the Mofaic law to his opinion? And what is the canon, now utterly antiquated, either to that, or to mine? Ye fee already what a faithful definer we have him. From fuch a wind-egg of definition as this, they who expect any of his other arguments to be well hatched, let them enjoy the virtue of their worthy champion. But one thing more I obferved, a fingular note of 'his stupidity, and that his trade is not to meddle with books, much lefs with confutations; whenas the "Doctrine of Divorce" had now a whole year been published the fecond time, with many arguments added, and the former ones bettered and confirmed, this idle pamphlet comes reeling forth against the firft edition only; as may appear to any by the pages quoted: which put me in mind of what by chance I had notice of to this purpose the laft fummer, as nothing fo ferious but happens ofttimes to be attended with a ridiculous accident: it was then told me, that the "Doctrine of Divorce" was anfwered, and the answer half printed against the firft edition, not by one, but by a pack of heads; cf whom the chief, by circumftance, was intimated to me, and fince ratified to be no other, if any can hold laughter, and I am fure none will guefs him lower than an actual ferving-man. This creature, for the ftory muft on, (and what though he be the loweft perfon of an interlude, he may deferve a canvaffing) tranfplanted himself, and to the improvement of his wages, and your better notice of his capacity, turned folicitor. And having converfed much with a ftripling divine or two of thofe newly-fledged probationers, that ufually
ufually come fcouting from the univerfity, and lie here no lame legers to pop into the Bethesda of fome knight's chaplainship, where they bring grace to his good cheer, but no peace or benediction elfe to his houfe; thefe made the cham-party, he contributed the law, and both joined in the divinity. Which made me intend following the advice alfo of friends, to lay afide the thought of mifpending a reply to the buz of fuch a drone's neft. But finding that it lay, whatever was the matter, half a year after unfinished in the prefs, and hearing for certain that a divine of note, out of his good-will to the opinion, had taken it into his revife, and fomething had put out, fomething put in, and fuck it here and there with a clove of his own calligraphy, to keep it from tainting: and farther, when I faw the stuff, though very coarfe and threadbare, garnished and trimly faced with the commendations of a licenfer, I refolved, fo foon as leifure granted me the recreation, that my man of law fhould not altogether lofe his foliciting. Although I impute a fhare of the making to him whofe name I find in the approbation, who may take, as his mind ferves him, this reply. In the mean while it shall be seen, I refuse no occafion, and avoid no adversary, either to maintain what I have begun, or to give it up for better reason.
To begin then with the licenfer and his cenfure. For a licenfer is not contented now to give his fingle Imprimatur, but brings his chair into the title-leaf; there fits and judges up, or judges down, what book he pleases: if this be fuffered, what worthlefs author, or what cunning printer will not be ambitious of fuch a stale to put off the heavieft gear; which may in time bring in round fees to the licenfer, and wretched misleading to the people? But to the matter: he " approves the publishing of this book, to preferve the ftrength and honour of marriage against thofe fad breaches and dangerous abufes of it." Belike then the wrongful fuffering of all thofe fad breaches and abuses in marriage to a remedilefs thraldom is the ftrength and honour of marriage; a boisterous and beftial strength, a dishonourable honour, an infatuated doctrine, whofe than the Salvo jure of tyrannizing, which we all fight againft. Next he faith, that "common dif